How do we find motivation after Friday’s act of darkness? I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time.
Bob Mayer’s FB status on Friday suggested: “Just mourn. No politics, agendas, rants. Losing a child is an exclusive club you do not want to be a part of. Trust me on that.”
This is not going to be a rant or a political statement. I don’t have an agenda.
What I have is a hurting heart.
My family lived near Newtown at one time. I have an undergraduate degree from Western Connecticut State in Danbury. One of my daughters graduated from New Fairfield High School. Our other daughter took piano lessons from a teacher in Newtown. Somehow, these connections made what happened more real.
I’ve been restless, perplexed, sidetracked by tears of anger and sadness all weekend. How do we make sense out of senseless?
I’m wondering how God can let things like the massacres in Newtown and Aurora , the rampage in Tucson and Virginia Tech happen?
Seeking answers I emailed my son, a minister with a Ph.D. in Theology. I share his thoughts with his permission.
It is in times like these that our faith meets sight. It is easy to walk by faith when things make sense. It is when our reality is rocked by some inexplicable and incomprehensible event that faith must really kick in.
Because I believe that God has revealed Himself to us in His written Word, the Bible, and because I believe the Bible contains everything we need for life, my mind turns to Scripture to seek an answer.
The crux of the matter in cases like this comes down to “how/why does God allow evil?”
It is really a question of sovereignty versus free will. If I could solve that, I would be famous indeed.
By its very nature, the sovereignty/free will issue is an antinomy—something that cannot be explained in human terms, to human satisfaction. Scripture reminds us in Isaiah 40:13-14 that God’s knowledge is unique to Him. And Proverbs 21:30 confirms that there is no wisdom, or counsel or understanding higher than His.
So we are left to trust Him and Him alone as knowing what is best.
For many people, this approach to the question of evil in the world is inadequate and trite. I understand.
That’s why eschatology is not just a hobby or whimsy of mine. It is the key cog in my worldview. I could not survive in a world where everyone is under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19) if I did not believe that God wins in the end.
When I see things like what happened in Newtown I get angry and crave God’s divine intervention more than ever. I, too, question why does He wait to claim victory?
But I take comfort in knowing that ultimately, God will intervene. A better day is coming. A day of complete justice when Satan and all of his human and demonic envoys will be judged once and for all. It is that promise of Scripture that allows me to keep going when things don’t make sense in the present world.
So, to summarize: The unspeakable events of Friday are incomprehensible apart from a biblical worldview that promises (1) God is in control even when evil seems to triumph; (2) All evil will be recompensed; (3) Justice will prevail; (4) God wins.
I believe, like my son, God wins the final victory. But until that THE END happens, I will hug my children more, tell teachers I appreciate them more often, and offer prayers of comfort for the families and victims of these tragedies.
And most important, as a writer, I will write.
So should you.
I love Emma D. Dryden’s suggestions in her blog.
Create something precious for the world that might help to replace the precious the world’s lost. Write, paint, sing, dance, walk in nature, breathe deeply, and love fiercely. As we reach out to friends, to family, to others, so too must we reach inside to be gentle with ourselves. And we must remind ourselves we do carry the light necessary to light the dark corners, vanquishing one shadow at a time.
What does it take to be a writer?
Is all you need to be a writer pen and paper or a typewriter or an iPad or laptop/computer with a word processor? Maybe all it takes is the latest writing tool like this:
Or is there more involved besides having the proper writing tool?
Simple answer, YES.
A writer’s journey is a solo trip. A lonely trip and no two writers achieve success in the same way.
I think, to be successful, an aspiring writer must possess, at a minimum, these things:
- A PASSION
- A WILLINGNESS TO PRACTICE
- A DESIRE TO LEARN
The most important trait a writer needs is the deep desire to write and a steadfast commitment to his passion.
“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” Hebbel quotes
Writers must write because, if we don’t, we are miserable. The desire flows with our blood.
If you watched the Summer Olympics last month, you saw performances by athletes who had practiced and trained YEARS for the opportunity to compete in their chosen event.
A certain number of hours practice is frequently necessary to be considered proficient at so many things.
Think about airline pilots who must have a specific number of flying hours before they are qualified to solo. Teenage drivers get learner permits and must practice before taking a test to prove their proficiency and earn a driver’s license.
Writing is no different. Writing requires practice.
The exact amount of practice depends on your natural talent, how quick you learn the techniques of your craft and how much passion you have for what you’re doing.
Which brings up another question, how often should you write?
My simple answer: EVERY DAY.
But how much should you write? Does it matter?
According to James Thayer’s Author Magazine article “How Many Words a Day?” Jack London wrote between 1,000 and 1,500 words each day.
Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day.
Ray Bradbury, who authored over five hundred science fiction novels and short stories which someone calculated to be three and a half million words worth of stories, advises writers to “Write a thousand words a day and in three years you will be a writer.”
To succeed as writers, we must practice by writing something, anything every day.
On LEARNING or STUDYING writing craft
Most people wouldn’t dream of trying to build an automobile without learning about auto mechanics. Unfortunately, too many people try to become writers without learning about the craft of writing.
An idea for a story strikes, and they start writing. They never consider story structure, POV, or any of the other skills embedded in every novel we read.
This, imo, is why so many aspiring writers fail so often.
Without learning basic skills, you won’t go far as an auto mechanic, no matter how many hours you put into practicing. Think about artists. They learn to mix paint, how to prepare a canvas and color theory at an art school. Aspiring auto mechanics go to technical schools.
Learning about basic craft skills requires time and study. To me, it’s the most important aspect of being a writer.
Sure, some writers succeed without study. With study, I believe success comes faster.
Even those born with great talent rarely go anywhere without equal measures of passion and practice. Mozart was a virtuoso of musical technique and artistry, but even he needed to learn his craft. He was full of passion for music, he practiced all the time, and he studied.
There are hundreds of great books on writing. I’m sure you have your favorites. On my website you’ll find a complete list of writer resources and some inspiring quotes. Below is a short list I recommend for every writer’s craft resource shelf:
- Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell
- Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass
- Break Into Fiction, by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love
- Story, by Robert McKee
- Scene and Structure, by Jack M. Bickham
- Getting Into Character, by Brandilyn Collins
- Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
- The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley
Writing classes – on-line and at colleges and universities – also offer wonderful ways to develop writing skills. Too many classes, in fact, to list them in this post. I’ll do another blog with my recommendations soon.
Writing conferences offer yet another means to study writing craft with the added benefit of networking with like-minded people.
If you happen to live in or near Houston, Texas, there’s going to be a great writer’s conference next month—Northwest Houston RWA’s Lone Star Writer’s Conference featuring James Scott Bell.Yep—same one whose book is #1 on my recommended list.
The conference also offers a tremendous line-up of editors and agents. All for only $130.00. Check it out here.
Now you know what 3 things I believe are necessary to be a success writer so get out your iTyperwriter and GO, GO, GO.
YOUR TURN: What do you think it takes to be a successful writer?